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Texas AG's Office: We're Ready for Next Battle Over Immigration Plan

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a controversial immigration program the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down on Monday.

From left, immigration rights activists Manuel Ramirez, Lucian Villasenor and Adrian Orozco protest President Obama's Civil …

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a controversial immigration program the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down on Monday.

The program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, would shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants in the country from deportation proceedings and allow them to apply for a three-year work permit.

On Monday, the 5th Circuit upheld a February decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville. Hanen halted the program after ruling the Obama administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act governing how federal regulations are made.

“The Department of Justice remains committed to taking steps that will resolve the immigration litigation as quickly as possible in order to allow [the Department of Homeland Security] to bring greater accountability to our immigration system by prioritizing the removal of the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children,” Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said in a statement. “The Department disagrees with the 5th Circuit’s adverse ruling and intends to seek further review from the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who has taken over the case originally filed by former Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now the governor — said his office was ready for the next battle.

“Three times federal courts have ruled in our favor, and we stand ready to continue defending the rule of law against the president's unlawful abuse of executive power,” Paxton spokeswoman Cynthia Meyer said in an email.

Meyer said Texas and the 25 other states that have joined the lawsuit will have 30 days to respond to the administration's petition to the Supreme Court once it is filed.

Abbott’s office said it had nothing to add on Tuesday but on Monday said the appellate court's ruling "is a vindication for the rule of law and the Constitution."

Proponents of the DAPA program say timing is critical. If the high court decides to hear the case and rules in the administration’s favor, that decision could come as late as June. That would leave about six months before Obama leaves office and could affect how many applicants take advantage of the program.

“Further delaying the implementation of these programs only harms the country by forgoing a cumulative $230 billion added to our gross domestic product over a decade, the creation of tens of thousands of jobs each year, and a significant increase in the wages of all workers,” Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, said in a statement. “Enough slowing down sound legal action; the Supreme Court should take up this case as soon as possible so that the country can reap all of the benefits that would come from these crucial initiatives.”

Texas Tribune reporter Abby Livingston contributed to this report. 

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